Oct 29, 2021 - COVID

Iowa lawmakers approve vaccine mandate exemption bill

Illustration of a pattern of syringes.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Iowa Legislature approved a bill that requires employers to waive COVID-19 vaccine requirements if the employee says its harmful to their health or goes against their religious beliefs.

State of play: The bill was introduced by House Republicans on Thursday during a special session meant for legislators to vote on redistricting.

What it does: Private employees, as well as job applicants, can try to get a COVID-19 vaccine exemption by giving employers a statement saying either:

  • Getting vaccinated is "injurious" to their health or their household's health. Employees are not required to get a health professional to sign off, Iowa Capital Dispatch reports.
  • It conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Plus: If an employer fires an employee for not being vaccinated in general, the employee is eligible for unemployment benefits.

The intrigue: Vaccine mandate protesters told lawmakers to vote no on the bill, arguing it didn't go far enough to be effective.

  • Attendees said they don't want a bill that gives exemptions, but rather a full ban on mandates, Iowa Capital Dispatch reports.
  • They also argued the language is too vague, giving room for employers to deny waivers.

What's next: Gov. Kim Reynolds said she intends to sign the bill, as well as take “immediate legal action” when Biden’s mandate rolls out.


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